Malloy, with no fanfare, signs budget
HARTFORD — Connecticut’s longest budget impasse ended quietly Tuesday afternoon when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill into law, despite aspects of the tax-and-spend package that he calls “problematic” and which should be revisited by lawmakers.
He also issued line-items vetoes on a controversial hospital tax, which lawmakers will have to address to keep the budget in balance and nearly 30 state hospitals eligible for federal Medicaid reimbursements.
“After 123 days without a budget, it is time to sign this bipartisan bill into law and continue the steady and significant progress our state has made over the past several years,” Malloy said in a statement. “Connecticut’s families and businesses deserve to have a budget in place, one that provides a stable environment to live and work. While there are certainly many provisions of this budget I find problematic, there’s also a clear recognition of many of the fiscal priorities and concerns I’ve consistently articulated since January. I appreciate the work of the General Assembly in passing a budget to my desk that I can sign.”
Immediate reaction from lawmakers was supportive, less than a week after the House and Senmate approved the bill with wide, veto-proof margins.
“I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership and for signing the bipartisan budget into law,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney,D-New Haven. “This budget truly meets the needs of our state by investing in our workforce, our students and our state colleges and universities, while providing cities, towns and boards of education with certainty and predictability. At the same time, this budget makes important systemic reforms that will result in significant long-term savings and pays down Connecticut’s pension liabilities.
“Today is a positive day for Connecticut,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk. “The bipartisan budget protects taxpayers and businesses, prioritizes students and education, invests in our economy and makes responsible long-term reforms. Starting today, communities and school districts across the state will have the resources they need to provide services and educate our students.
Malloy singled out a new Municipal Accountability Review Board aimed at helping Hartford out of its insolvency problem; required contributions to state employeement and teachers’ retirement programs, and the restoration of cuts to higher education that he cited when he vetoed a Republican budget last month.
He warned of potentially “damaging” raids on the state’s ratepayer-supported energy funds. “In the coming weeks, the administration will outline more specific ideas to address these cuts, avoid their immediate negative impact on consumers, and ensure that Connecticut can maintain its commitments to clean energy investments in the energy marketplace.”
“While this may be a step in the right direction, make no mistake about it - this is by no means a perfect document and it is not one I would have negotiated,” Governor Malloy said. “There are real legal and structural issues with the budget presented to me, and I have concerns about the state’s ability to keep it in balance over the biennium and beyond. That’s why, along with my signature, I am also line-item vetoing a component of the budget relating to the supplemental payments to hospitals that would leave Connecticut taxpayers exposed to legal challenges and a potential $1 billion budget shortfall per year. I strongly urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to convene as soon as possible to pass a legal alternative to the illegal hospital tax and troublesome supplemental payment and rate language presented in the bill.”firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @KenDixonCT